(1960- ) US author who began publishing work of genre interest with "A Hiss of Dragon" with Gregory Benford for Omni in December 1978. Though he published solo stories with some frequency in the 1980s, his best-known short work is perhaps the group of mathematically oriented tales written with Rudy Rucker, such as "Chaos Surfari" (March/April 1989 Interzone). Laidlaw's first novel, Dad's Nuke (1985), is a Satire of suburban life and Christian fundamentalism set in a Near-Future community effectively sealed off from the rest of the disintegrating USA; ritual technological fixes for anxiety include having a personal nuclear power plant and a baby adapted (see Genetic Engineering) to recycle the wastes into her lead-lined diapers. Laidlaw's second novel, the amusing Neon Lotus (1988), follows the consequences of the Reincarnation of a Tibetan Buddhist sage as a young girl in a highly technologized USA. Kalifornia (1993) is a further satire, and The Orchid Eater (1994) is associational. The 37th Mandala (1996) is closer to Horror than sf, but is a scathing satire on the worldview underlying much "New Age" thought. The Third Force (1996) is a tie-in to a CD-ROM computer game, and pointed to Laidlaw's next move, as a full-time games designer. Working for Valve software, he provided much of the narrative spine that made Half-Life so much more gripping an experience than many of its contemporary competitors. He also worked on the various expansion packs to Half-Life, as well as on Half-Life 2, and all of these games exhibit the same bracing cynicism as his fiction. He has continued to publish short speculative fiction. [GS]
see also: Technology; Weapons.
born Laguna Beach, California: 1960
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